Svařené víno, or ‘mulled wine’ in English, is the quintessential wintertime warmer. The smell of simmering spices will lure your nose to the kettle just like some cartoon character to pie on a windowsill — and instantly drawing you into the beautiful Christmas markets of Prague. After you decide you can’t wait (and burning your tongue slightly on the first sip), the taste of svařené víno, or svařák (svah-zhawk) will have confirmed your nasal suspicions that it is, in fact, very tasty. As the night progresses — and a cup or two of svařák have mysteriously emptied before your eyes — and the sun sets, the lamps light up the now shimmering city, and the Christmas tree in Old Town Square flicks on. It’s nothing short of amazing; but just then, the panic sets in… “How will I get this stuff at home?!?!”
Indeed it’s a problem easily remedied. Mulled wine exists in many countries, but it’s often quite different from culture to culture. Many people on our tour of Prague’s local Christmas markets have been asking about making their own mulled wine at home, so here’s a quick and easy recipe for some svařák. But first, a disclaimer. Please, be careful. It’s easy to forget that this tasty little beverage in your mug is wine, and it can disappear quickly if you’re not careful. Also, using some quality spices and a good bottle of wine (skip the boxes, they’re just not right) can really improve the mulled wine and prevent stomach and head pains. So treat yourself nicely and do it right; you’ll thank yourself the next day.
1 750ml bottle of red wine — ideally light and fruity such as Beaujolais nouveau, or other nouveau wine
1 cup water
120gr (4oz) sugar
Peel of 1 orange
Peel of 1 mandarin
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cardamom pods
Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, add the orange and mandarin peels, reduce heat to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the spices and simmer for another 10 minutes. Pour the wine into the prepared syrup, taking it off the heat as soon as it is warm, or when you begin to see bubbles. Strain and serve.
** Feel free to play with a few customisations. It’s not uncommon to add entire slices of orange, or use star anise instead of cardamom. Add according to your taste and enjoy!
That’s it, within a few minutes you’ll be sipping this in the comfort and warmth of your own home. Share with friends, family, and loved ones for best results. Finally, another reason to look forward to winter, and it’s not even difficult to make!
The smell of roasted nuts, spiced mulled wine, gingerbread, and cut pine… come embrace the holiday spirit on a tour of Prague’s Christmas markets.